South Sudan President Salva Kiir on Monday (25/07/2016) replaced his vice president and rival Riek Machar. The move could potentially undermine last year’s peace deal and reignite war in Africa’s youngest nation.
According to a decree “for the appointment of the first vice president of the republic of South Sudan,” read on the country’s national broadcaster, Kiir said he had appointed General Taban Deng to the post. The appointment of General Taban Deng in place of Riek Machar according to political pundits may reignite civil war in the five-year-old nation.
Machar fled the capital, Juba, last week after a new outbreak of violence threatened to send country back to all-out civil war. On Thursday (21/07/2016) Machar was given a Saturday (23/07/2016) afternoon deadline by President Kiir to return to Juba and work together towards rebuilding peace.
The two had signed a peace agreement late last year under which Machar was once again made vice president.
President Kiir and Vice-President Machar fell out in 2013, little more than two years after South Sudan became independent, when Mr Kiir accused his Vice-President of plotting against him.
The war which started in 2013 killed more than 10,000 people and displaced over 2 million, many of whom fled to neighbouring countries. The most recent fighting in Juba has forced 26,000 people to flee to neighbouring Uganda, according to the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR.
Pope Francis had earlier dispatched a special message of peace to president Kiir and his former first deputy in government, Riek Machar, but whose letter could not be given to him after he went into hiding following the outbreak of the violence clashes between the rival forces at the presidential palace in Juba.
Mr. Kiir has so far not indicated willingness to heed to the appeal by the head of Roman Catholic Church.
The President and Pope Francis had met and held talks aimed at ending conflict in 2015 in Kampala, capital of neighbouring Uganda and who later had to send a special envoy to deliver peace message.